Adding pitching not only answer

August, 27, 2011
8/27/11
10:36
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Brewers' offseason addition of Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke to their rotation helped make them the playoff-bound team they now are.

With that in mind, the talk around the Chicago Cubs is that adding two quality arms in the offseason could possibly make them the Brewers of 2012. Realistically, that’s a simplistic solution to a problem that reaches far beyond just adding a couple of pitchers. Beyond the pitching staff, the Cubs offense and defense need to undergo some drastic changes in both personnel and results.

This year’s Cubs are the least patient offensive team in baseball. The Cubs have the fewest walks in the major leagues with 322, an average of 2.4 per game. Even though the Cubs have the third highest batting average (.261) in the National League, their on-base percentage (.315) is tied for ninth. The combination of Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney at the top of the order has compiled 40 walks in 1,033 at-bats. Now that doesn’t make the Cubs daily double for most of the season a bad combination, but it does tell you that some work has to be done to the lineup if it’s going to be one of the league’s top offenses.

“Getting better pitches to hit should be a better situation all the way around,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said. “The end result would be our hitters getting more walks.”

Moving Quade’s point even further, the Cubs offense has the fifth highest strikeout total in the NL.

On the defensive end, the Cubs lead the majors with 110 errors. To compound that issue, mental mistakes have caused many of those physical errors. Unfortunately for the Cubs, their two most improved players, Barney and Castro, have made a ton of bad decisions that have led to errors of omission and commission.

“They’re both good players,” Aramis Ramirez said. “They will both get better and better. There’s no doubt. Barney’s decisions have mostly been good, until lately, and Castro has improved on his thought process. These two players will be here a long time and both will improve with a little more experience.”

As Barney and Castro continue their ascension toward becoming top players, the question remains: What moves will the Cubs new front office make to supplement their young talent?

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Jason Hammel
WINS ERA SO IP
8 2.98 104 108
OTHER LEADERS
BAS. Castro .287
HRA. Rizzo 30
RBIA. Rizzo 71
RA. Rizzo 81
OPSA. Rizzo .889
ERAT. Wood 4.72
SOJ. Arrieta 135